What to pack for the polar regions

What to pack for the polar regions

A trip to the Arctic or Antarctic regions is an incredible and exciting experience, particularly if it is your first time. However, knowing what to pack can be somewhat difficult, with many first time polar travellers typically over packing, because they are uncertain about what to bring.
If you have visited cold climates before you may already have some suitable weather gear. However, with today’s lightweight, high-tech fibres make layering less bulky and are more effective at retaining warmth and creating the essential barrier against the polar temperatures.

As you will be visiting the Arctic and Antarctic regions during the summer months (November to March), you can enjoy sunny, clear days where temperatures can reach up to 15 degrees on the Antarctic peninsula. However, the weather can also change rapidly to icy cold, stormy weather and temperatures well below 0 degrees. It’s therefore very important to be prepared before you go and bring the right gear with you to handle these varying weather conditions.

With Scenic, all guests will be provided with a wind-proof, waterproof complimentary hooded Parka, especially designed for Polar cruises when you board Scenic Eclipse, which is yours to keep as a memento of your experience. We will also provide complimentary use of Polar boots for the cruise duration, so no other boots, including hiking boots will be needed for going ashore.

To determine what other essentials you may require, we have put together a helpful list. Here are our recommendations of what to pack:

Essential packing checklist for Polar Cruises

On Shore

  • Base layer (wool or synthetic)
  • Insulation layer (warm/fleece top and pants)
  • Waterproof pants
  • Wool and synthetic socks (2-3 pairs)
  • Glove liners
  • Waterproof gloves (two pairs suggested)
  • Neck gaiter, scarf or other face protection
  • Fleece or wool hat or beanie that covers the ears
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Sunglasses with UV protection – polarised is best

On Board

  • Comfortable casual clothing (pants/jeans, shirts, sweaters or jumpers)
  • Lighter shirts or tops in case the ship gets warm
  • Smart casual evening wear
  • Comfortable shoes

Suggested Extra Items

  • Waterproof, lightweight backpack or dry sac – for protection of camera
  • Swimsuit – for the temperature controlled pools
  • Camera with extra batteries and battery charger
  • Extra memory cards
  • Eye masks for sleeping – please note the suites do have blackout curtains
  • Prescription medication or supply of other medication you take regularly
  • Extra pair of prescription glasses
  • Fitness gear for use of the on board wellness facilities
  • Foot/Hand Warmers
  • Summer/Spring clothing for Buenos Aires or Santiago (when cruising to Antarctica)

Top tips to stay comfortable and warm in Polar climates

The best way to stay warm in Polar climates is to layer your clothes and to stay as dry as possible. Follow these top tips to keep yourself warm whilst you’re exploring the Arctic and Antarctica.
  1. Base layer
    Fibres that insulate and wick moisture such as polypropylene, merino wool, and other synthetics are recommended, but we don’t suggest cotton or denim. We recommend that you pack two full sets of base layer tops and bottoms. Breathable, lightweight tops and bottoms provide warmth without bulk.

  2. Insulation layer
    The insulation layer should be lightweight with its purpose to trap body heat. A good quality polar fleece or lightweight loft jacket or vest will do the trick. Lighter and heavier garments that can be worn alone or in combination allow for greater flexibility and maximum warmth when needed.

  3. Outer layer
    This is your waterproof and breathable barrier. Your complimentary Scenic Eclipse Parka will protect you from sea spray during Zodiac rides, however you will need waterproof pants for every excursion. Pants should be lightweight, breathable and wide enough to fit over your boots. Knee-high side zippers are preferred so you can get your boots on and off easily. We advise against pants that have Velcro as these end up being a biosecurity hazard. Waterproof pants should be loose fitting so you are comfortable when sitting in the Zodiac.

  4. Accessories
    Protect extremities with a hat, neck gaiter and gloves. If you like to take photographs, we recommend wearing a snug polypropylene inner layer underneath your waterproof outer layer gloves.

  5. Sunscreen and sunglasses
    These two items are essential, as well as lip balm to protect from wind burn.
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